Saturday, February 14, 2009

Scriptures.....Reading, Understanding and Internalizing

Scriptures - such as Bhagvadgita, Bible, Quran etc. - I regard them as user manuals written by God to explain how we should use his marvelous creation called universe.

Common complaint about scriptures - they are hard to understand. Bland to read. Written long while back with scenarios of that day which are not applicable any more. So on and so forth. All in all, scriptures are hard to read, understand and make sense for today's life. Some smart people have written commentaries on major scriptures. Commentaries may be easier to read and understand. It is not a bad idea to read them to begin with so that at least the wisdom of some people can trickle down into us.

Recently read a very inspiring small story in some blog about this very topic. Can't remember the address of that blog. So, if you read it somewhere else, all credit to the original blogger.

Story goes like this. There was an old man who was very pious, religious and spiritual. He always used to read Hindu spiritual classic 'Bhagvadgita'. He used to say that everyone should read Bhagvadgita and that it had solutions to all the problems. He had a young grandson who use to see his grand father always read Bhagvadgita and praise the glory of the Lord. One day, young grandson picked up Bhagvadgita and started reading. Within no time, he got bored. Grandson was a smart young man. But, he could not make sense out of cryptic stanzas and could not see anything useful in them. He told his grand father that he tried reading the Bhagvadgita but he could not keep himself absorbed and got bored because he could not make head or tail.

Grand old man was a smart chap. He pointed to a bamboo basket at the corner and asked his grand son to go out and get water from river in that basket. This bamboo basket was used to haul coal. So, it had accumulated coal residue and become very black inside. Due to black coating  inside, it seemed to have no gallery like porous appearance and seemed solid to hold water. Son left with the basket and filled water in that and headed back home. It was a bamboo basket and unlike a solid vessel, all water leaked out of small pores by the time grandson reached home. His grandfather asked son to go back and try it again and again. Diligent grandson tried and tried but every time by the time he reached home there was no water in the basket and it had all leaked out.

Grand son was ready to give up. He was tired of this meaningless exercise. He said so. Grand father now asked grand son to bring that coal basket and asked to see. After having brought water so many times, it was clean now. All the coal black had been washed away. Now it looked like any other bamboo basket. Grand father explained that  all though bamboo basket did not hold back any water, the very act of bringing water in it had cleaned the basket nicely. Water had washed away all the coal dirt out of basket.

Moral of the story - when we read spiritual classics whether in original form or as a commentary by some learned men, we are not going to understand all of that. In fact, we may not even understand much of it.But, in the process we start washing away the mental dirt. Our basket starts becoming cleaner and cleaner. We start seeing bamboo basket for what it is. Full of pores from where all the water is escaping. Once we realize that we can either start using a different basket or more appropriately block those holes so that water does not leak out.

When we take to spiritual reading, we are taking the first step. Initial years may mean nothing but cleaning process is going on. After some years of spiritual reading we will start seeing all those pores from where our vital energy is going away. Most common outlets for vital energy are our meaningless pursuits of material happiness, wealth, people etc. We start seeing those clearly. We become alarmed at this colossal waste of our vital energy. We start changing our ways and make sure that we start retaining as much wisdom as possible. That's when we either get a new solid vessel or paint the basket from outside plugging all those pores so that we can retain all the wisdom.

Great little story. That's what I felt when I read it. So, next time spiritual classics start boring you, you can remember this story.


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